"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Archive for the ‘Blog Post (short for weblog)’ Category

Patreon bonus: Walker, Texas Ranger Halloween episode

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Sorry, I never get trick-or-treaters at my apartment, so I didn’t get enough candy for everyone. But I do have a Halloween treat for Patreon people: an illustrated look at a 1998 Halloween episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.

click here for WALKER, TEXAS RANGER: “THE CHILDREN OF HALLOWEEN”

Remember, for $1 a month (or more if you can afford it) you can read this as well as other exclusives like my in-depth reviews of each of the TWILIGHT movies, an episode of Rambo: The Force of Freedom, and some extra tie-ins to the HIGHLANDERLAND series. More importantly you get to feel like a hero for helping me to only work part time so I have more hours for writing the good shit (most of which will always be free right here on outlawvern.com).

Thanks everybody!

20th Outlawversary Excellencefest

Friday, October 11th, 2019


Today is, by my best guess, the 20th anniversary of Then Fuck You Jack: The Life + Art of Vern, the humble collection of movie reviews I crudely constructed on the free “home page” platform Geocities way back in the nineteen-god-damn-nineties. What started as a goof transformed, over the course of two decades, into some sort of life’s mission. I’ve learned, had fun, made friends, and written about a shit load of movies. More than 3,000, I’d estimate, because you’re looking at post #3,508 (including columns, blog posts and the posts I used to do to link to the new stuff).

I hope that output earns me the right to be self-indulgent today, because otherwise I’m in trouble! I went back to the beginning to prepare this retrospective, and many of the early ones are embarrassing, but most of them still make me laugh. I think I’ve lost some of that youthful craziness over time (sorry), but I also think I’ve gotten way better, especially around 2015. I’m glad it came that late, because I feel like I’m still growing. Still striving.

I look at everything I wrote and remember all the tragic shit I was going through during some of the later years and I can’t remember how I did it. I guess I was escaping into my work, but also stubbornly clinging to what I wanted to do with my life, even while spending so much of it waiting in hospitals. I probly owe some people some apologies.

But mostly thank yous. Few will make it through this whole post, so I want to do those first. Truly, sincerely, if it weren’t for you (yes – YOU!) I would’ve stopped before I ever got good. So many of you have commented or kept in touch over the years, or you drop me a line and tell me you’ve been reading since Ain’t It Cool, or you just discovered me or whatever. You make me feel like I’m not crazy, there are other people who are passionate about the same silly shit I am, or at least are entertained to read about it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And extra super beyond the call of duty thanks to Jacob Martin for once telling me I should keep writing reviews when I had stopped, to Phil Blankenship and david j. moore for getting me to show my face in public, to Clubside Chris Rowley for a ridiculous amount of work and financial support to create outlawvern.com and keep it online.

I need to emphasize that last one. Chris was there to catch me when Geocities finally shriveled up and died about ten years in. He not only gave me my url, but built this whole archive and everything on here. Before him if I remember right I’d just have a page for each letter of the alphabet, so if I finished the review of BEDEVILLED I’d paste it onto the page with all the movies that start with the letter B. Imagine if I was still doing that! He helps me with all my computer shit, so I know he has a particular set of skills, and I know right now he’s in need of a gig, so if anyone has/knows something for him please get in contact with him – his email is clubside360@hotmail.com.

And finally, thank you to my friends and family, including my parents (who gave me the leeway to decide what I wanted to do with myself even when they didn’t understand it), and most especially the anonymous Mrs. Vern, who has done more for me than words can express. Words is stupid.

I figured 20 years was a big a deal, but I wasn’t sure how to celebrate, besides getting drunk and doing karaoke, which is my plan for tonight. I decided it was a good occasion for self evaluation, so in the last few weeks I went through my entire archive and have compiled a year-by-year look back over important events and favorite writings from my ongoing climb up the holy mountain of excellence.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Patreon bonus: RAMBO: THE FORCE OF FREEDOM

Saturday, September 28th, 2019

As John J. Rambo may or may not have shed his last blood on cinema screens, perhaps it’s a good time to remember him in all his glory when he had been pardoned by the president and was free to hang out with his pals like Turbo and Touchdown, fighting mostly non-lethal battles with the mercenaries, bikers and cyborgs of the S.A.V.A.G.E. terrorist organization. That’s why I watched and wrote about “First Strike,” the first episode of the 1986 cartoon series Rambo: The Force of Freedom.

MAY THE FORCE OF FREEDOM BE WITH YOU

As always, thanks to everyone who has been able to support the Patreon. That extra monthly check has improved both my life and my writing by allowing me to work fewer shifts of the day job and focus on the good shit here. I hope the quality of the reviews here as well as the bonuses over there like the TWILIGHT series help to express my gratitude.

Patreon bonus shit: Highlander: The Series guest starring Rowdy Roddy Piper

Friday, June 7th, 2019

Thank you again for reading my HIGHLANDERLAND series. It was a thrill to write and share it with you all. I knew it would be wrong for Badass Studies and humanity as a whole to lock such an important topic behind a paywall, but I really owe a debt of gratitude to the Patreon supporters on this one. The predictable monthly extra income from that has allowed me to work one less day a week and that’s truly why I was able to prepare the whole series in advance like I did with the TWILIGHT ones. So if I was going into some aspect of part 5 and realized there was a parallel in part 2, I could go back and mention it earlier. An extra opportunity for excellence-striving.

As a special thank you for that I have one last Patreon-exclusive HIGHLANDERLAND bonus – a review of the second season Highlander: The Series episode “Epitaph For Tommy,” chosen not for its importance as an episode, but for it guest starring Rowdy Roddy Piper.

CLICK HERE TO GET ROWDY

New bonus on Patreon: Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys” video, directed by Russell Mulcahy

Friday, May 24th, 2019

Friends! I hope you’ve been enjoying the HIGHLANDER studies so far. On Monday we’ll continue with a look at the pilot of Highlander: The Series, which features Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod, reaching through the portal from real movies into syndicated television to hand off the torch. For those who have been asking, no, I’m afraid I’m not able to cover the full six seasons of television, but I look forward to your insights into the rest of it.

It is true that we’ve already covered the two best and most cinematic movies of the franchise, but trust me, there’s plenty more interesting stuff to enjoy and dissect. Before that I’d like to cap off this Russell Mulcahy portion of the programming with some EXCLUSIVE PATREON BONUS SHIT. If you are a current Patreon supporter or want to sign up, you can click the link below for my heavily illustrated look at Mulcahy’s most extravagant Duran Duran video, made two years before HIGHLANDER when he was trying to make a feature film out of a William S. Burroughs novel.

And this is my obligatory occasional post of gratitude to all those who have supported me on Patreon and in other ways. You very directly made it possible for me to work fewer hours at the day job and more at preparing this series, which I’m very proud of and excited to share with you. So I hope this extra post serves as a small thank you and/or enticement for new subscribers. (Reminder: you’ll also get access to my reviews of the entire TWILIGHT series, starring Batman.)

Read about “WILD BOYS” on Patreon!

 

 

R.I.P. John Singleton

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

Instead of posting a review today I want to write a little bit about John Singleton, who died yesterday after complications from a stroke.

If you weren’t of age in the early ’90s, I don’t know if you could ever quite understand it, but John Singleton was enormous. A few years earlier Spike Lee had exploded into the pop culture consciousness, a singular voice, a revolution out of New York, making an arty black and white movie on credit cards with a jazz piano score by his dad, then making bigger and better movies with studio backing, showing the promise of a new generation of black filmmakers.

And Singleton, already, was that promise. More than a decade younger than Lee, he made BOYZ N THE HOOD at 23. Practically a kid. As I seem to have mentioned every time I ever wrote about him over the years (see links below), he was nominated for a best director Oscar the first time out, the first black director to do so, and to this day the youngest person. He became an inspiration not just for black directors, but anyone young, outside of the system and wanting to tell a story about where they come from. (read the rest of this shit…)

Happy anniversary to us

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Outlawvern.com administrator Chris Rowley has reminded me that today is the tenth anniversary of the first time I ever posted on this here domain. He’d actually bought it for me the summer before as an act of kindness (or pity?) to get me off the free Geocities sight I’d used since 1999. I turn him down because I thought it was funny and subversive to pour such effort into such a crappy looking websight. When Geocities stopped working (it turned out they were closing up shop) he luckily hadn’t taken offense to my initial rejection and helped me getting things running right away.

I want to thank everyone who has read or commented or supported in any way. But I’m especially thankful to Chris, who has put so much time and money into keeping this place running through technical difficulties and multiple re-designs, who has set up comments, forums, spam blockers and features of his own invention. He’s also working on some new ideas that will be a surprise even to me. His generosity has made my life better, and maybe yours too, so please give him your thanks.

Happy anniversary everybody. Here’s that first post:

R.I.P. www.geocities.com/outawvern

Talking RICOCHET on ‘The Suspense Is Killing Us’ podcast

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

My friends Kevin Clarke, Travis Vogt and Matt Lynch have a podcast called THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US where they discuss suspense thrillers, mostly of the ’80s and ’90s. I think they’re funny dudes and they joke around a bunch, but they know their movies. You may be familiar with Matt from his popular/grumpy letterboxd account or my old Michael Bay reviews where I mentioned him under the alias “Mr. Armageddon.” Kevin started the podcast because he was interested in the idea that these Michael Douglas and Ashley Judd type movies used to be a huge genre that now is virtually non-existent outside of weekly procedural TV shows.

When they invited me to go on I asked if Russell Mulcahy’s joyously berserk RICOCHET (1991) starring Denzel Washington counted. They were thrilled by the idea, and since their format is to cover three related movies they made me also watch FALLEN and THE BONE COLLECTOR. Warning: we spoil the shit out of all three.

I have two objectives here:

  1. Put enough positive RICOCHET energy out into the universe to secure a Blu-Ray release
  2. Have this episode get way more listens than all their other ones so they’ll respect and fear me

You guys can help me out with #2 if you’re interested:

THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US Episode 7: RICOCHET (& Two Other Denzel Movies)

Get ready to get AVENGEMENTed

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

I must be moving up in the world because I actually got sent a press release about Samuel Goldwyn Films acquiring U.S. rights to “THE ACTION-PACKED FILM ‘AVENGEMENT’ STARRING SCOTT ADKINS.”

The important new information is that it will be released digitally on May 24th. It also says it’ll be in theaters that day, but I don’t know how many of our cities will benefit from that.

The other thing that most impressed me is that Adkins’ character is named CAIN BURGESS. Obviously we were all hoping for John Avengement, but the genre can definitely use more Cains and Kanes. We’ll see if Cain Burgess becomes the next Yuri Boyka.

AVENGEMENT is directed by Jesse V. Johnson, who I have noted is on an incredible role with SAVAGE DOG, ACCIDENT MAN, THE DEBT COLLECTOR and TRIPLE THREAT all in a row. He first directed Adkins way back in 2005’s PIT FIGHTER. The screenplay is by Johnson and Stu Smalls, which bodes well – Johnson wrote the excellent DEBT COLLECTOR, and Smalls is Adkins’ life long friend who co-wrote ACCIDENT MAN and has helped mold his dialogue for other scripts.

Here’s the official plot summary:

“While released on furlough from prison, a lowly criminal evades his guards and returns to his old haunts to take revenge on the people that made him a cold-hearted killer. It’s an epic, bloody battle to search for the soul he lost years ago on the streets of an unforgiving city.”

Johnson’s description of the character and story are intriguing. He calls Cain Burgess “both frightening and sympathetic” and “A man who has tempered his pain and rejection into a carbon steel tool for revenge.” And he claims that said revenge is “a satisfyingly baroque, almost elegant retribution.”

So we’ll find out what that’s all about in a few months, but we only have to wait until next week to see the latest from Johnson and Adkins (as the villain), TRIPLE THREAT. I’ll have a review of that for you tomorrow morning after the embargo lifts.

Ranking the Live Action Comic Book Movies of the ’90s

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

I have an extensive new piece over on Polygon where I rank and discuss all* of the live action comic book or comic strip based theatrical or DTV movies of the 1990s. I know it’s weird for me to be writing on a video game sight, but did you know that I’m actually pretty good at Ms. Pac-Man? You might be surprised.

This was fun because I didn’t really realize until I compiled a list how familiar I am with the topic. I’d seen almost everything that qualified, although I had to fill in a few holes and rewatch several that I hadn’t seen in decades (some of which I’ll be reviewing soon). I have my memories of what I thought of the movies at the time and it’s interesting to look at them all as one movement and consider how different they seem now that they’re artifacts of a bygone era.

Please don’t take the rankings too seriously. I’m already questioning why I didn’t move certain things around. For example, I know I put SPAWN up too high, trying to give it credit for notoriety. Hopefully my write-ups show a joy for what’s unique about this genre even in the lesser ones. Judging from the comments, my low ranking and lumping together of the three TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES movies is the most controversial choice. I didn’t see that coming, and I think it’s a generational difference – I’m just too old to understand why it’s so fucking hilarious that they love pizza. I’m more of a cats eating lasagna guy. But apologies for the blasphemy.

I wanted to mention here, since it didn’t really fit in the article, that looking at them all together made me realize one particular artist’s contribution to this genre. That person is not Danny Elfman, because I’d noticed he scored DICK TRACY, BATMAN RETURNS and MEN IN BLACK, plus the theme for The Flash on television, so I already associated him with comic book movies of that era. No, my new realization was that Nils Allen Stewart, guy who played Jesse Ventura in a TV movie and veteran action henchman with the weird hairdo in the ON DEADLY GROUND bar fight, appears in THE MASK, THE SHADOW, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR and BARB WIRE. Not bad.

Anyway, PLEASE ENJOY THE ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE and let me know what you think.

*Zack Clopton on Twitter pointed out that I fucked up – I missed PRINCE VALIANT (1997). Damn it.